Stockpiling or Hoarding?

My Oh My, are people opinionated.  Not that this surprises me really, but I find it rather entertaining that so many actually care what us couponers do with our coupons, our stockpiles, our basements, and apparently even our toilet paper and body wash.  It is rather amazing that I, as an Extreme Couponer, find myself having to justify what’s in the one corner of our basement but no one seems to care what’s in the other three.

If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, allow me to explain.  Since you’re keeping up with the subject (you are, aren’t you?) you know that “Smart Shopping” means you buy items when they are at their lowest cost, and you buy in bulk so you don’t have to buy again until they are at that lowest cost again, thereby never paying full price for anything.  That’s really the whole premise of making couponing work.

The ‘problem’, if you will, is that there are lots of fine lines buried in there, and for some reason lots of folks want to define them.  Once they’re defined, apparently, one can then complain if they’ve been crossed.  For example…  There’s a killer deal on body wash and your coupons combined with the store sale make the item free.  Makes sense to buy several, right?  One person might be content with 2 or 3.  Another might think 10 is fine for them.  Yet another might have coupons to buy 20 and stock up for awhile.  Couponer #4 has 3 teenagers involved in sports and figures with all the showers going on 40 bottles wouldn’t even last 6 months.  Now let’s add Couponer #5, who cares for the elderly on fixed incomes and would like to purchase 100 bottles to donate to their care to avoid any out-of-pocket expense to either herself or them.  (For fun, I could add Couponer #6, who wants to buy 200 just because she wants 200.  No particular reason.  But she would evoke too many negative comments so we should leave her at home today.)

If Couponers #1 or 2 meet #4 or 5 in the checkout line, they are likely to frown upon their couponing practices, and assume they are “shelf-clearers”, or “hoarders”.  Worse yet, let’s say #4 or 5 did actually clear a shelf (gasp!), and #1 or 2 follow to make their smaller purchase.  Oh, at the angry accusations that follow!  How dare someone actually purchase everything that a store has on the shelf!  It amazes me how quickly people jump to conclusions without having any of the facts.  If a shelf is empty it must surely be because some crazy couponer cleared it to hoard in their stockpile!

Speaking of “shelf clearing”… there’s another fine line in there somewhere.  I get that there are some items that deem consideration for other consumers, such as baby formula – where clearing a shelf might leave a mother without the ability to buy the exact formula her baby needs.  But razors?  Body wash?  Ketchup?  I don’t think anyone is going to face a crisis if the shelf is empty of their brand that day.

For the record, it is not my personal habit to clear shelves.  But I can’t say I have a problem with someone else who does.   Everything in the store is there to be sold.  If the shelf is empty when I go in, it doesn’t anger me.  Life is way too precious to get worked up about such things.  If the deal is important to me, I’ll either check another store or get a rain check.

But on to the subject at hand – Stockpiling vs. Hoarding.  Is there a difference?  I suppose, but do I care?  Not really.  Why would I care if someone else has a 20 year supply of toilet paper in their home?  Does the “P” in TP really stand for “Petroleum” and, because of its limited supply, a family’s stockpiling so much of it drives up prices for the rest of us?  Seriously… That’s about as logical as the arguments I read online.  I am truly amazed that so many people care so much about what someone else buys and stores in their home.

I read statements constantly by many who claim they would never purchase anything they could not use, regardless of whether it was free or even a money-maker.  That’s your prerogative.  You may frown on our excess bottles of cleaner and deodorant (which we will actually use), but can you claim that everything in your home is used 100% of the time?  No clothes in the back of the closet that you will one day fit into again?  No boxes from when you moved in that never even got unpacked and you’re not sure what’s even in them now?  No bags of kids’ clothes that have long since been outgrown that you keep meaning to donate?  No old scrapbooking projects from 5 years ago that you will eventually finish?  No old car on blocks in the back yard?  No extra car parts in the garage for cars you don’t even own anymore?

Everything for sale in a store is there because it is useful to someone.  I could defend what I do with items that I purchase and tell you that nothing goes to waste in our home… but really, what does it matter?  That’s beside my point.  Hypothetically, if I fill our entire basement with body wash, or toothbrushes, or conditioner, or deodorant, or ramen noodles, or whatever… and never touch any of it…  how is that anyone else’s concern?  As long as I obtain the coupons legally, ethically, and I follow the store and manufacturer policies in obtaining the products, should it matter to anyone else what I purchase and what I do with it afterward?

I wonder if some of the same folks who criticize the need for 200 containers of dishwasher detergent also have 100 pairs of shoes in their closet.  And I bet they didn’t get their shoes for less than $1 each with coupons, either.  (As a shoe fanatic myself, I am NOT knocking the shoe thing – ask my hubby!)  I’m just pointing out the double standard!

I think we all just need to calm down a bit and quit criticizing so much.  We all have our little peccadillos.  Makes life interesting if you ask me.


  1. tbb says:

    well said!

  2. sfcouponheaven says:

    Thanks,very well said. I really don’t worry about the name calling “Hoarder”. They are not the ones putting food on my table for my family to eat.

  3. Marie Riley says:

    Thank you! Live and let live! I have a daycare of 12 and a family of 6 (3 adults and 3 kids) and I need to use coupons and I am more determined than ever to start a stockpile. With daycare, you never know what your income will be and it is difficult to budget. I intend to use everything I am learning with this and putting it to good use in order to provide all the people I look after with whatever they need. I’m tired of running out of things!